I Got My Green Thumb From My Grandma

When we were kids and used to stay at my grandmother’s place, she did a lot of gardening in this wide empty lot across her home. During summer, my cousins and I would spend most of our days playing hide and seek, setting up our makeshift tents made up of dried coconut leaves, and foraging different kinds of fruits from the trees that my grandmother planted in the garden. There were guavas, banana, santol, duhat, guyabano, aratilis, etc. There were vegetables too like okra, eggplant, malunggay, saluyot, etc. If she’s lazy to go to the market to buy some vegetables, she will just make a trip to her little paradise and when she comes back home, her rattan basket is full! My grandmother liked keeping herself busy and gardening is her forte. I remembered her saying the last time I saw her before she passed away that she’s got hands that give life to anything she plants. Then I jokingly replied how I wished she’s got the hands of King Midas instead! LOL.

In primary school, I dreaded home economics time. I got traumatised after we were asked to grow cucumbers. After our first harvest as a class, my classmates brought home huge ones while I wasn’t able to bring home any because I had a hard growing them. Then, I never looked back. I thought, that’s it for me and gardening. I will be moving on. But who would have thought that after decades, here I am, enjoying as I watch these plants in our backyard grow everyday.  We have corn, runner beans, rhubarbs, tomatoes, cabbage, raddish, pepper, and different herbs too! My grandmother told me that for plants to grow healthily, you need to talk and sing to them! So yep, you can imagine a deranged-looking woman in the backyard talking to these plants while watering them every afternoon. But what the heck? I don’t mind as long as they grow healthily.

I thought of featuring them today because they deserve a round of applause after surviving the summer heat all day long. So, ladies and gentlemen, here are the stars of our backyard:

Runner Beans

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Can you spot the sitsaro?

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Repol-Yo!

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Red Hot Chili Peppper

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Rhubarb

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Getting them ripe for salsa

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Strawberries

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Zea Mays

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Lettuce

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Basil (Valdez) 🙂 I know, lame. Keep scrolling down.

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Rosemary

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French Taragon

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Parsley

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Thyme

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Potatoes

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Whenever I miss my grandma, I would head down to our backyard and somehow through these plants, I feel calm and connected with her. She must be smiling down from heaven seeing me enjoy what she enjoyed the most.

 

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May is Coming!

 

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As much as I would like to keep my political views to myself, it is difficult to stay mum amidst the increasing political online posts and news especially now that the presidential elections is just around the corner. Politics was never my cup of tea and being married to a son of a former ambassador doesn’t help either. As a matter of fact, whenever my father-in-law would talk about the South China Sea dispute and other political issues both in and out of the country with his children, I keep quiet and just basically listen because I know politics will never be my thing. So, before I begin, let me put a disclaimer: this is solely my opinion (which I know I am entitled to). I am not an expert on this but just like you, I am hoping and praying for a better Philippines.

The clock is ticking. I know whose name I’ll write in the box as vice-president while who to vote for as president still has a big question mark. Here are my thoughts about those running for the presidency:

  1. Binay- Multiple allegations of corruption. Thinks and feels that Makati is his. A congenital liar. Claims to come from a poor family but doesn’t have a genuine platform on how to alleviate the life and living conditions of the poor. It’s all for show and if he truly is sincere, I dare him convert his hacienda to a housing project for thousands of homeless in Manila or Makati rather.
  2. Poe- this is a no-brainer. Simple lang. Why will I vote for someone who has renounced her citizenship? Article VII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution provides that no person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least forty years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding such election. If she can get her way despite what the rule of the land requires, makes me very scared of what she can do if she becomes the President so, a BIG no.
  3. Duterte- yeah, he made Davao what it is now. I like his platform on corruption and eradicating crimes and drugs but I couldn’t bring myself to agree with his position on some issues like giving away the presidency to Bongbong Marcos (if he wins as VP) if he couldn’t keep his promise of eradicating crime like he said. No to another Marcos (who is unapologetic and another congenital liar) as president, please?
  4. Mar- where did the Yolanda funds go? What has been done to improve the traffic in Metro Manila and the nearby provinces? When will our international airports be on par with the international airports of our ASEAN neighbours? Authored a number of bills and resolutions but I see lack of balls in implementation.
  5. Santiago- the depth of her knowledge on our laws surpasses all the other candidates. could be very feisty but is she fit enough to carry our country’s problems on her shoulders?

The difficulty in choosing my president lies in my sincere desire to see a better Philippines because it is high time for our country to be ruled by someone who is very much qualified and capable to govern, has the will and sincere desire to change the Philippines for the better, and whose values we can all look up to and respect. We need a leader who will drive our economy to greater heights, yes, but right at this moment, our country is in dire need of someone who can affect change in each one of us. We always say we need to see a change in how our government is being run but really, the change we need is a change in the way we think, behave, and act as citizens of this country. For me, it takes a great (actually, phenomenal) leader to inspire people to begin the change within themselves. I have set my standards so high because I know my country deserves so much more and I hope you do too. Thus, let us not be fooled and fall blindly for anything that looks and sounds good. It is time that we make informed decisions not only for ourselves but also for the future generations. The future of the Philippines lies in our ability to discern the right from wrong now.

As election day becomes imminent, I pray that we make the right choice but even more so, that, whoever will win be surrounded by people who can rebuke him/her when he/she does something wrong. We need these people in the new administration. People who can point out the mistakes of the leader and a leader who doesn’t only take in the compliments but humbly recognizes his or her mistakes too.

 

 

 

Life is Worth Celebrating

Due to my very hectic work schedule the past few months, I found it too difficult to cope with my backlog for my blog. Celebration after celebration happened that I didn’t have the time to write about what transpired during our many ‘firsts’ in Toronto until today. Thanks to the ridiculous amount of chocolates we received during the holidays which I’ve OD’d on thus, the sugar rush… Hehe.

Sharing with all of you are some of our many ‘firsts’ here in Toronto.

We had fun celebrating our baby Ania’s Snoopy and Friends-themed first birthday party! 🙂

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We also witnessed how the leaves transitioned from green to yellow to red during autumn. We took a stroll (while holding hands, hehe) at High Park one fine day, our first autumn together.

 

We also gobbled up during our very first Thanksgiving Day with family and friends.

We were not able to go trick or treating during Halloween but we sure had fun partying with these party people!

And of course, our very first Christmas in our tiny, cosy home

Looking forward to many more firsts this 2016! 🙂

Paalam, Lola: A Tribute

Its is so difficult to write again especially if one writes about a heart-breaking event for the entire family such as this. I don’t even know where to begin. The past months were trying times for the whole family as my grandma got admitted back to the hospital again and spent most of her days in and out of the intensive care unit. During those times, no prayer was left unsaid each night. All we did was pray for her speedy recovery.

My grandma is a fighter. When my cousins and I were small kids, we used to giver her headaches during nap and meal times. We were left under her care when our parents left for work. She took care of her seven children plus her grandchildren. She just had so much love to give. Sometimes, it made me wonder where all her energy came from. There were too many of us drawing strength, love and attention from her but her supply didn’t run out. It was constant until her last breath. Being married to a soldier, she is fierce like that.

One of our family friends said that I am like my grandma, that I have taken most of her qualities. I guess that’s because I spent most of my growing up days with her. I’ve learned many things from her. I learned how to become prayerful because of her. My grandma is known in our community. When she was younger, she would be called in by neighbours to lead the prayers for those who died. She would always bring us with her. I’ve learned how to pray the rosary as well as the different mysteries at an early age. She was one strict lady. Everyday, at 6pm, she would always stop me and my cousins from playing because it was time to go back home to pray The Angelus. She also led me to become a devotee of the Our Lady of Lourdes. We used to go to church in white dresses with blue ribbon as devotees to Our Lady of Lourdes. My grandma wore the same outfit up to her last day on earth.

My grandma also taught me how to be an entrepreneur. She used to make different Pinoy sweet treats such as bukayo, espasol, polvoron, yema, etc. to make ends meet and to keep herself busier. After school, we would help her wrap these treats and because we wanted to make extra money for our allowance, my brothers and I would bring packs of these treats to school and sell them. I learned how to value hard-earned money because of her. I also learned how to be ‘ma-abilidad’ when it comes to making extra cash.

She also taught me how to become steadfast during times of adversaries. My grandma became everyone’s source of strength when my grandfather left for the US. She’s got 7 children and during that time, one of them had early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, not to mention all the grandchildren left with her day in, day out. She didn’t tire looking after everyone’s welfare and constantly provided for the entire family.

I can go on and on about the many life lessons I’ve learned from her but I suppose the most important thing that I’ve learned is to always put family above all things. No family is perfect for in every family there are different personalities trying to understand and even outshine others sometimes, but at the end of the day, family is family-that despite differences and flaws, one will embrace another because of love.

My grandmother is the glue that holds our family together and right up to her death, she managed to bring all of us together no matter where we are. Now that she’s gone, its feels good that our family had been bonded by her love forever and there’s no trial we won’t overcome for sure. My grandma’s legacy will live on.

To our matriarch, thank you for all the love you have showered us every single day of our lives. Our lives will never be the same without you but knowing that you are up there guiding us in every decision we make and will make, makes all of us a little braver.

Paalam lola, mahal kita.

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My Favourite

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I can write a million words about you

and let the whole world know the real you.

But it is in silence and quiet times your heart shines

all the more during hard, trying times.

You are the sugar to my coffee,

I’m the flower, you’re the bee.

My mustard to my ketchup,

I’m the comma, you’re my full stop.

Despite disagreeing on many things

we always end up complementing.

Your strengths, my weaknesses

Your weaknesses, my strengths.

On your birthday, please know

that you will always be my favourite, I love you.

Blessed and Loved

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There are two reasons why I get mushy. One, whenever I feel down and blue. Two, when I’m overjoyed and couldn’t contain my emotions. Sounds like I’m a bipolar and my husband will totally agree when he reads this. Hehe. I’m writing this post because my heart is very jumpy and overflows with happiness and gratitude for the little and big things that we have been blessed with every single day. So, I started volunteering for this non-profit organisation that holds the annual Kindness Week in the Greater Toronto Area and we started off our meeting yesterday by individually expressing what we are thankful for. Thinking back, here are some of the things I’ve been extremely grateful for:

Time- looking at the brighter side of things, I sometimes get to think that the reason why God has not given me the right job yet is so that I can have time to make sure my husband is alright everyday especially when he started reporting for work three weeks ago, have time to volunteer and connect with people who have kind intentions for other people, have time to look for our own place and of course, have time to do the things I love doing like yoga, reading, movie marathoning, and eating! 🙂

Health- I suppose this is something that I always pray for every night particularly my parents’, families’ and our relatives’ health. I mean, we can all work like a dog and earn the money we’ve all worked hard for, but, what is wealth if we don’t get to enjoy it because the people we love are sick? I’m grateful too that despite the shifting temperatures we’ve experienced the past few weeks, my husband and I are perfectly fit and healthy.

Technology- It brings us closer to our family back in the Philippines. My parents know about Skype now and we’ve got Skype dates too. Whenever I feel blue, my mom can easily send me a private message on FB to check on me/us. I can easily contact my brothers too. It makes catching up with family and friends easy peasy.

Trying times- this is the time I can openly talk about the difficulties I’ve faced the past few weeks probably because I have already moved on and chose to look at the good side of what I experienced. I joined a company (I thought it would be for keeps), did the training for two days, signed the contract and found out that the company hired me for a position I didn’t even apply for. Anyway, I still carried on and did the field training. I toiled for 8 hours doing field work even if the weather was almost negative and went home drenched and soaked. Alberto told me not to go back to work the next day (even if I’d still want to give it another shot). Heartbroken, I didn’t go to work the next day and was stuck at home searching for a new job (again). I opted to see the good in this experience and by doing so and while typing this post, I’ve been called in by Philips Canada to report to work next Monday! *does the happy dance* Yay! Trying times hit you hard ’til you can’t take any more beating. Hold your ground. It’ll get tired eventually. When it’s done, get back up, dust yourself off (you wouldn’t want to be unpretty for a long time) and seize every opportunity that comes your way. There’s no way to go but up after a downfall, right?

Last, I thank the Lord for the friendships and relationships we have. We have a very strong support group. The kind of relationships that surround us inspires me to be grateful for the kind of relationship that I have with my husband.

Whether it’s a big or small blessing, let us always remind ourselves to begin each day with a grateful heart. What about you? What are you grateful for?

Throwback Thursday: Niagara Falls in the Summer

Hello there! Missed me? 🙂 Apologies for I have been so busy the past few weeks- new job, volunteering activities, and back to job hunting (again) that I have totally put blogging on the side. Since I haven’t shared anything recently, this is going to be a throwback post of our day trip to Niagara Falls. I wanted to write some random ramblings but nah… there’s so much negativity going on everyday so why add up? I want my readers to be inspired and feel good so I hope this post will prompt you to come and visit Canada one day and at the same time, visit us! We were blessed to have visited this famous landmark right on the border of Ontario, Canada and New York, USA during the summer with friends. It wasn’t that hot nor too cold the day we went to see this majestic falls. There are a lot of attractions in the area, a day spent in Niagara is going to be super worth it.

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We rode the Hornblower to see the falls up close. I almost chickened out. Red-coloured raincoats mean from Canada side, blue-colored ones mean from the US side.

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that’s the bridge connecting US and Canada

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these photos are courtesy of our good friends, Joy and Jonathan. 🙂 

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Massive and powerful. 

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Lunch with a view

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We also went to a butterfly farm 

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last group shot before heading back home

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